Case Study: Facebook Lead Gen Ads
How a New Pressure Washing Business Achieved 9 Times ROI in 1 Month
The strapping lad in the photo is Chris Gavre, a young entrepreneur and founder of Wash Warriors, a full-service Pressure Washing company in Greenville, SC. Wash Warriors serves both residential and commercial clients; they clean building exteriors, driveways, sidewalks, and virtually any other surface. Chris wanted to generate business using online marketing. He had tried Google ads without success, so we decided to try a new approach – disruptive advertising. In other words, instead of waiting for clients to find us, we sought to get in front of them. To simplify even further: Facebook ads. For a 30-day period in April-May 2020 – right in the middle of the COVID-19 quarantine and recession, plus the Easter holiday, and with a newly established brand – we decided to run ads on Facebook, with a $10 daily budget. It sounds like the setting for an against-all-odds Disney movie. But the campaign was a real success, with encouraging results even from the beginning.
Given the company’s limited brand presence at the beginning of the campaign – a still-new WordPress website, a Facebook business page that was only a month old, and few other digital assets to work with – we opted for Facebook’s Lead Generation campaign type. This type of campaign lets prospective clients request a quote without leaving Facebook – an embedded form lets them send their name, phone and e-mail with only a few taps (or clicks) on their smartphone (or desktop). Since Facebook already knows this info about their users, it is pre-populated on the form, and the prospect only has to tap-to-confirm. This sleek, near-automated experience is very conducive to generating leads. It’s also convenient for businesses whose websites don’t yet have a polished landing page. This dual benefit made the Lead Gen campaign type the most suitable candidate for success in our case.
Format: Video. A routine sidewalk cleaning was demonstrated. Show & Tell; casual and educational. No other format builds this kind of trust and demonstrates expertise. Plus, viewers who watch to the end can be marketed to in the future, as an interested, “warm” audience. (Chris’s video was about 45 seconds, an appropriate duration for a Facebook experience.) Face time is also important – showing the person behind the business goes a long way towards trust and relatability. Women are the majority of Wash Warriors’ clients, and Chris’ red hair was a hit with the ladies.
Offer: free driveway cleaning with the purchase of a home cleaning. The most important part of ad copy is the offer, and if it isn’t compelling, it won’t drive leads. A free consultation isn’t enough.
The above was the second of two videos run during the month; content, as well as copy, must be refreshed regularly to keep viewers interested and engaged. (“Ad fatigue” is a real thing, and no ad is effective forever.)
Budget and Circumstance: $10 daily budget actually isn’t too bad, but the COVID-19 quarantine not only tightened homeowners’ wallets, it also made them averse to visitors. (understandably) Although it’s true that Facebook real estate was cheaper during the quarantine (because many advertising budgets were slashed), this supply-and-demand effect wasn’t apparent in our campaign. $10 bought about 600 daily impressions, or views, of the ad during the 30-day period – a fairly typical reach even pre-quarantine. Out of 600 daily quarantined, cash-strapped prospects, we were fishing for leads.
Credibility: the Wash Warriors business page on Facebook was just created in February, and had very few Reviews, Likes, or Comments. There was also no Facebook marketing history, so the algorithm had to start from scratch; and the Facebook Pixel was not yet installed on the company’s website, to track visitors and build a customer avatar. So we had zero digital assets to work with. All of this means that our audiences were cold – we couldn’t leverage Custom Audiences, who were already familiar with the business. Our prospects were seeing Wash Warriors for the first time.
Phone Tag: although the leads were texted directly to Chris’ phone (using the service Zapier), many came in during odd hours – between midnight and 6am – and Chris, being human, was asleep. He called them back as soon as he could, but often they were unresponsive to his calls or texts. Attention span is a valuable commodity, and human nature must be managed and mitigated.
Total Spend: $300 ($10 per day, for 30 days) Leads Generated: 22 Leads Closed: 8 Total Revenue: $2950 Return on Investment: 9 times
A few things to note here:
- Virtually all of the $2950 revenue was profit, since the only real input to the business is water and a cleansing solution. Healthy margins give a healthy ROI.
- While only 8 leads were closed, most of the remaining 14 merely weren’t closed “yet.” A few were lost due to price, but most are either still in discussion, or weren’t responsive to calls and texts. So, they’ll be added to the Wash Warriors e-mail list, and over time are expected to purchase either a home washing, or a smaller offer such as walkway washing, pool washing, etc. If these sales materialize, they’ll push the ROI even higher.
- These “back-end” sales – purchases of smaller-ticket services not mentioned in the ad – can be just as profitable as the front-end business, i.e. sales from the ad itself. Back-end sales have a lower average value, but tend to make up for this with higher volume.
- The leads themselves have an inherent value, even if they didn’t close. Why? Because they are interested prospects, and Facebook’s algorithm can use their profiles for better ad placement. Whatever the prospects have in common – age, marital status, hobbies – the algorithm can parse these attributes to “learn” Wash Warriors’ ideal customer profile. Videos can then be shown to these kinds of people, for all-around improved performance.
- Eventually, the most valuable kind of prospects – those who purchased – can be used by Facebook to seek out similar people. Facebook calls this a Lookalike Audience, and it’s the most efficient way to find new prospects, who have the highest likelihood of purchasing.
- More than 2,000 people watched his video to the end. These prospects can be segmented into a Custom Audience, to be shown another video, tailored to their level of familiarity and interest.
- Reviews, Likes, Comments and Before & After Photos also have an inherent value – credibility and social proof. They’re additional digital assets, and help to convert future sales.
- 22 names, phones and e-mails are added to the Wash Warriors mailing list. E-mail marketing is free, and even if Facebook goes away, the e-mails remain. This adds to the value of the company.
Actually, this 30-day campaign was a success by Day 20:
Results were definitely satsifactory.
And now that Chris has improved marketing assets – Custom Audiences who have viewed his videos, Liked his page, and purchased his service – he can target these warm audiences, instead of the cold audiences he had before. By all theories he can now expect even better ROI for his dollars.
Even for a new business, and during the worst pandemic of our lifetimes, Facebook ads were a success. Chris had an ROI of more than 9X, which will likely grow to 11X over time, as his back-end sales funnel materializes and matures. If he can achieve this month after month, he’ll reach his dream of retiring by age 30. With everything he’s learned during this 30-day experiment, this is a high likelihood – business success tends to compound, as repeat business, word-of-mouth, improved digital skills and assets, and larger advertising budget take their effect.
By no means is the learning curve over. (It never really is!) In the future, we plan to experiment with advertising on different times of day, days of week, different offers, etc. Also, different mechanisms to get prospects on the phone – perhaps asking them to call the business, instead of being called. We may even introduce tiered pricing by square footage, so that a prospect can simply purchase a home cleaning, bypassing the need for a quote. (Any money left on the table, will be made up in volume.)
Kudos also to Chris himself for being willing to experiment on marketing – he understands that nothing ventured is nothing gained, and was willing to try Facebook after a less-than-successful experience with Google. He was also willing to go on camera, which intimidates many business owners.
Leave your questions and comments below, or contact us if you’re a pressure washing company!